The mother of a Northamptonshire drug gang boss has been jailed for laundering more than £142,000 of cash made from her son’s wholesale cocaine business.
Karen Riviere, 57, of Barrett Close, Wellingborough, lied about her income in order to obtain mortgages on five properties in Wellingborough and Higham Ferrers between 2003 and 2006.
But the purchases, which included a £217,950 four-bedroomed house on Larkin Gardens, Higham Ferrers, in 2006, were bought with cash transferred to her account from her son Nicholas Riviere, who was yesterday imprisoned for 14 years and eight months for two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
When each of the houses was sold in turn, the profits would be used to buy another in a bid to ‘clean’ the ‘dirty’ drug money. Nicholas Riviere would also live in the newly-acquired house.
Sentencing Karen Riviere yesterday judge Sally Tayton QC said: “I accept you closed your eyes to what your son was doing and that you didn’t have to do anything actively over the course of this operation than filling out mortgage forms.
“But the underlying offending was so serious, being the supply of class A drugs, I cannot let this go with just a suspended sentence.”
Karen Riviere was given a two-year jail term, of which she will serve half in prison and half on licence.
The court heard yesterday how the 57-year-old lived in a council house throughout the offending and was employed by various cleaning firms from 2004 until her sons arrest in 2014.
Her earnings, even at their highest point, only just reached £14,000 during that time.
But over the years the offences took place, more than £350,000 was deposited into various accounts in her name. Of that amount, £142,417 was laundered through the property-buying exercise, and almost all of the rest withdrawn in cash.
Prosecuting, Adrian Langdale said: “This was a classic laundering exercise.
“Dirty money would go in using the vehicle set up by Miss Riviere.
“When it comes out as profit that money still remains dirty.
“However to the outside world it appears clean.”
In order to buy the various homes she lied about her income, claiming on one occasion she was manageress of ‘R Cleaning Services’ and earning a yearly wage of £33,000.
But, defending her, Andrew Howarth said that the gang boss’s mother had not profited from the enterprise, other than to accept a £40,000 payment from her son to buy her own council house in Barrett Road in 2003.
He said: “These were houses clearly being purchased by Nicholas Riviere.
“How would he have purchased them himself?
“When the mortgage company would have asked him, ‘what’s your income?’, he could hardly reply, ‘I’m a successful drug dealer’.
“It was not Karen Riviere setting up the ‘system’ for laundering money, her son was setting the system within which she was being used.”